Phila. jury awards Pa. trooper $700,000 in vehicle accident case

By Jon Campisi | May 2, 2013

A Philadelphia Common Pleas Court jury recently returned a plaintiff’s verdict in favor of

a Pennsylvania State trooper who was injured after her vehicle was rear-ended by a work van on the Girard Avenue off ramp of Interstate 76 in Philadelphia.

Court records show that the city jury awarded plaintiff Joanne Dragotta $700,000 in her motor vehicle accident case against Service Master of Cherry Hill, a New Jersey company that specializes in cleaning and disaster restorative services, and Turnersville, N.J. resident Dorsey Graham, identified as the driver of the work van.

Dragotta, a Pottstown, Pa. resident who works as a state trooper in the Philadelphia area, filed suit against the two defendants in late August 2011 over allegations that the Aug. 26, 2009, accident caused the plaintiff to sustain various neck, back and head injuries that required medical attention and affected her ability to work as a law enforcement officer.

Graham, the driver of the work van, had told responding officers at the scene that the brakes on his vehicle had failed at the time of the accident, which caused him to rear-end the state trooper, but a subsequent police investigation determined that the brakes had been functioning just fine, and there was no mechanical failure, according to Dragotta’s complaint.

The trooper asserted various claims of negligence in her complaint against the New Jersey company and its employee.

The jury’s verdict was rendered on March 22 after a four-day trial presided over by Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Shelley Robins-New, according to the verdict sheet in the case.

Dragotta was represented by attorney Cary B. McClain, of The McClain Firm in Ardmore, Pa., while the defendants were represented by Norristown, Pa. lawyers J. Michael Kvetan and Harold E. Viletto.

One week after the verdict came in, McClain filed a motion for delay damages in the amount of $19,071 and legal interest of $115.07 per day from the date of the verdict until payment of judgment.

The docket sheet shows that the motion or delay damages was assigned to Judge Robins-New on April 24, although the jurist doesn’t appear to have ruled on that motion as of yet.

McClain, the plaintiff’s lawyer, was quoted in the Legal Intelligencer as saying the jury verdict was a “great result,” and would ensure that his client would have money set aside for future medical bills due to her ongoing health treatment.

The paper also noted that according to McClain, Dragotta can no longer work as a patrol officer, but instead spends her working days as a plainclothes state trooper stationed inside of Harrah’s Casino in Delaware County.

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